Tells tale of prior challenge to downtown parking scheme

Staff Writer
Kent Weeklies

The July 19 article about increasing the number of downtown parking spaces on Village Way and Park Lane by 38% caught my eye.

Years ago, I represented a Hudson citizen in his one-man court challenge to the city’s parking scheme for First & Main. On May 29, 2003, the judge agreed that “the final plan varies in some cases with the [parking] standards of the Hudson Land Development Code,” but concluded that the “exceptions and departures … [did] not constitute a major flaw” that required the development project, already a year underway, to be halted to fix the problem.

I believe the evidence showed how city officials ignored minimum parking standards for the First & Main project when approved in 2002. An increase of but 19 spaces along Village Way and Park Lane barely begins to address the need for 317 more parking spaces required by zoning regulations to accommodate this expansion of our downtown retail footprint. At least the current proposal stands as partial vindication of my client’s contention that the project is severely underserviced when it comes to parking.

At trial, I got the impression that the judge thought too much time had passed to halt the project a year after it had begun. That is regrettable in that I had been approached a year earlier by a group of downtown merchants wanting to challenge the parking plan when the project was first approved.

Regrettably, not one of them was willing to hire an attorney to challenge the city in court. Instead, they let my client, a local resident and not a retailer, take up the task a year later, at his sole expense … too late for the judge to be persuaded to issue an injunction to force the city to correct the parking plan.

S. David Worhatch, Hudson